I’m a big fan of the fantasy genre and it’s role in helping us understand ourselves, face challenges, and become better people. And one of my favorite fantasy worlds is X-Men.
For the first of my X-Men posts, I’m looking at my favorite X-person, Mystique — a blue, shapeshifting villain — who I like not just because of her name and X power, but also for the struggle she has for acceptance. The latest X-Men movie, X-Men First Class, shows her internal struggle for acceptance based on her appearance, and her efforts to mask this and be who she needs to be and look how she needs to look to fit in. When she realizes she doesn’t have to exert so much energy to transform/hide her appearance to be accepted by Magneto, a fellow mutant, she is drawn to him. Magneto’s reaction contrasts with Charles Xavier, a mutant friend and future leader of the X-Men, who wants her to conform to the look of mainstream society, and Beast, another fellow mutant, who tries to help her (and himself, with adverse results) change her look and destroy her mutant genes permanently. In the end, she joins Magneto and his group of outcast but proud mutants. Her desire for pride beat the desire to do what’s right and good (and socially acceptable). She transformed her shame into pride—but at what cost?
X-Men, and perhaps particularly Mystique, symbolize the quest of everyone to feel comfortable with who they are. It shows how easy it is to make the wrong choices of who to associate with based on who accepts you as you are and appreciates the real, true you. And also that looks can be deceiving.